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Your Natural Health Questions: CBD 101
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active ingredient across Cannabis species. CBD has a chemical structure that is almost identical to delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinoid (THC). However, these two kissing cousin compounds have no shared pharmacology or effects. While THC is known to be intoxicating, CBD is not. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction. The federal government still lists CBD in the same class as marijuana (a Schedule 1 drug- or having no accepted medical use and potential for abuse) but does not consistently enforce against the sales of CBD. In December 2015, the FDA made it possible to allow research on CBD. Is CBD Legal? Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical cannabis license. The government’s position on CBD is confusing and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. Hemp is a crop (of the Cannabis genus) that has traditionally been grown for fiber and may or may not contain any cannabinoid compounds. If it does, the THC content by definition of the US Federal government must be less than 0.3% (by weight). Marijuana, on the other hand, is Cannabis that contains over 0.3% THC. The legality of CBD is expected to change, as the Farm Bill made the hemp crop legal and will make it more difficult to prohibit CBD sales. Until the FDA makes a ruling about CBD sold as supplements, sales are technically illegal, even if you purchase it from a doctor’s office. Products that have been derived from legal cannabis in the State of California, and may be dominant in CBD content (very little THC), can be purchased at licensed cannabis retail outlets. Despite the murky legal status of CBD, it is always a good idea to talk with your healthcare provider about any and all supplements that you take. There is no legal risk in speaking with your doctor about CBD or Cannabis. Sourcing CBD A whole-plant extract of hemp likely contains some amount of THC, although some companies claim to be isolating the CBD (or removing the THC). Because of the lack of regulation, it is difficult to know exactly what you are purchasing. If you are planning to purchase a hemp-based product, look for one made from hemp grown in the United States from a manufacturer that conducts quality control testing. Certificates of analysis may be available on their website, or you can request this. This analysis will confirm that there are no pesticides, microbial or fungal contamination of the product, and should provide you with the information on how many milligrams of CBD is in a dose. However, the FDA has warned that the labels are not always accurate. California has not mandated quality control testing for hemp-based products, while other adult-use cannabis must pass stringent quality control testing. Health Benefits of CBD CBD is being touted as a treatment for a wide variety of health issues. The strongest scientific evidence for CBD is for the most untreatable childhood epilepsies known as Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. Recently the FDA approved the first-ever cannabis-derived medicine for these two conditions, Epidiolex, which is an isolated form of CBD and not a whole plant extract (contains no THC). This drug has not yet been approved by the FDA to treat any other conditions. Some CBD manufacturers have come under FDA scrutiny for indefensible claims such as: “CBD is a cure-all for cancer” (which it is not) or will “stimulate hair growth” (no proof of this). We definitely need more research on what CBD may be useful for, other than seizure. For instance, managing anxiety, insomnia, or mild inflammatory pain (some research exists for these indications). CBD is not a very potent compound, meaning that high doses are needed to produce pharmacologic effects (higher doses than required with THC, which is a very potent molecule). CBD is not typically sedating at the doses found in many hemp-based products, but research has shown that high dose (around 350 mg) may cause sedation. There is a dose-related risk of drug interactions with CBD and you should talk with your doctor about this potential. Despite some claims, CBD is not converted to THC in the body. However, if a hemp-based product contains any amount of THC this could show up in a urine or blood drug screening test. Remember that CBD may not have much effect at a low dose (it has rarely been studied clinically at under 75 mg). Because of all of the hype around CBD, it is possible that the craze about it is just a “placebo effect” (due to the belief in the product, not because the product itself is effective). If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — particularly if you are on other prescription medications, to ensure it won’t affect the metabolism of those drugs. Until we know much more about what CBD is good for, the best that can be said is that it appears to be non-toxic or has a good safety profile, at least in healthy individuals. Alternatively, it could be the very low amounts of THC found in hemp-based products that boost the therapeutic benefit. The combination of all of the many compounds found in botanical medicines (whole plant extracts), used for thousands of years across cultures, resulting in a synergy that adds up to provide effects. More research, such as that occurring through the Center for Medical Cannabis Research at UCSD will help to clear up some of the haze around CBD! Michelle Sexton, NDDr. Sexton is an Assistant Adjunct Professor for the University of California, San Diego Department of Anesthesia. Dr. Sexton’s NIH-funded pre and post-doctoral research was on the topic of cannabinoids and their roles in neuro-inflammation and neuro-degeneration. She is a member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, the International Association of Cannabinoid Medicine and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. She maintains a medical practice in San Diego, CA and she sees patients for integrative neurology, chronic inflammation, chronic pain, autoimmune diseases and cancer support.
15 Gifts for Living Naturopathically this Holiday
Realize a Healthy California wants to help you celebrate health for the holidays – mind, body, and spirit! We’ve gathered together some of our talented, licensed naturopathic doctors to share their favorite ideas for holiday health and fun. Whether gifting to others or gifting to yourself, make the holiday season brighter as we live naturopathically and support health together! DIY Bath Salts Homemade bath salts are a simple and affordable DIY that makes an excellent gift. Remember that you want to keep your mix focused on toxin-free ingredients, so avoid artificial colors and oils. Check out this great recipe from My Cultured Palate. Elderberry Syrup Elderberry syrup is a tasty immune booster and can help prevent illness or shorten the duration of your sickness. You can make your own syrup or purchase at the grocery store. Dr. Dennis Perry recommends, “The alcohol-free, glycerite tinctures are the preferred form, but the alcohol extracts and sugar syrups work too. A one-ounce tincture usually runs $8-12, and the sugary syrup around $15 for 3-4 ounces.” Gift Fresh and Local Eating fresh and local can benefit your body and the environment too. And — it’s a super tasty treat. Send a gift card to the local natural foods store, local cooperative grocery, or nearby farmer’s market. A Healthy Read Give the gift of health-forward books like recipe books for anti-inflammatory diets, hidden veggies in kids’ meals, managing allergies while eating out, or an illustrated guide to botanicals. In addition to sharing great information, reading itself is thought to boost brain health — from intelligence to memory and more. B-12 Boost Holidays can run you down. Stress, strange and rich food, and germs from travel and parties abound. Keep your loved ones healthy and happy with a B-12 Booster. Dr. Sarah Murphy explains, “Vitamin injections are stronger and work faster than oral vitamin supplements. Only a certain percentage of substances taken orally get absorbed into the body, depending on the quality of the substance and a person’s digestive tract health. Injections send 100% of the vitamin dosage into your bloodstream to circulate throughout the whole body.” Ahh… Stress Relief Gift a stress relief essential oil package. Try a mix of lavender, rose, vetiver, ylang-ylang, chamomile, cedarwood, and orange. Package with a nice diffuser and a bow. Gimme Energy! Sometimes stress isn’t the problem, but instead, your giftee needs some energy. Instead, try energizing essential oils like orange, neroli, lemon, peppermint, bergamot, and rosemary. If a diffuser isn’t your thing, you can gift these scents with all-natural beeswax candles instead. Give the Gift of Health Naturopathic doctors spend between 1-2 hours on initial appointments, listening to new patients and learning about their concerns. Give your loved one a gift certificate to your favorite naturopathic doctor to begin their positive health journey. DIY Calming Tea the gift of a calming tea to combat holiday stress. This recipe below can be sized to meet your needs in ounces, grams, etc. Ingredients should be available at most natural food stores. 6 parts Melissa officinalis< (Lemon Balm) 6 parts Avena sativa (Oats) 3 parts Matricaria chamomilla (Chamomile) 3 parts Mentha spicata (Spearmint) 2 parts Citrus sinensis (Orange peel) 2 parts Lavendula spp. (Lavender) 1 part Rosa spp. (Rosehips) Loose Leaf Medicinal Herbal Tea Blend Another drinkable gift is a high-quality medicinal tea for sleep or immune support. Consider a sampler of your favorite natural beverages to support all kinds of winter ills. Spa Gift Basket Gift an experience with all the ingredients needed for a relaxing hot bath — just add water. Your basket can include Epsom salts, oils, loofah sponge, candles, and even a rubber duckie. Add your own note with blessings or healing intentions and an inspiring book or poem. Therapeutic Massage Massage does more than just feel good. Your gift will promote relaxation and make your loved one feel pampered, and it will also promote their health. Massage has been reported to help unknot tense muscles, improve circulation, eliminate toxins in the body, improve sleep, and reduce overall pain. Exercise Intro Eliminate one of the barriers to getting fit. Gift an intro week or trial class in an area your loved one has shown interest. You can also consider purchasing a fun run 5k that you can do together at almost any fitness level. DIY Fire Cider Dr. Bryant Esquejo loves fire cider in the holidays. Fire cider is a fantastic way to stimulate your digestion and support your body’s natural health. The standard base ingredients are apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers as described in this recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs – but add your own extras for a custom blend. Give yourself a SCOBY for the Holidays! Dr. Michelle Sexton wants you to embrace the benefits of homemade kombucha by getting your own SCOBY starter. “It’s like having a pet, you have to feed it, but only once per week. In exchange, you get microbiome support, a ton of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in the form of Kombucha. It’s really medicine- you can experiment with flavors and adding medicinal herbs too! Root beer Kombucha is a wonderful tonic!” Whatever you celebrate, and whenever you gift — we hope you have a happy, healthy holiday from the RHC team!
Prevent Holiday Colds and Flu
Here we are right smack dab in the middle of the cold and flu season! Aside from the aches, pains, and discomfort, we suffer downtime from our busy schedules and commitments. Who among us wouldn’t just rather avoid getting sick? Well, fortunately, there are proven ways to avoid – or at least minimize – symptoms of a cold or flu. We’re all accustomed to the practical and effective advice of frequent hand washing, flu vaccination, and maintaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit to fight off a virus before it brings us down. But there are other effective strategies we can take that may be less commonly known. Sambucus nigra or black elderberry To avoid a cold, did you know that Sambucus nigra or black elderberry tinctures and syrups actually help to incapacitate a virus, and minimize its infective capacity? How can something so delicious be so effective? It has been shown in several studies that black elderberry blunts the pointy spikes on the virus protein coats so that the spikes, rather than having needle-like points are rounded, or dulled, and not nearly as effective at piercing cell membranes. With lower capability to pierce the protective membranes, viral contents that would otherwise enter and infect the body’s cells are kept outside the cells and more exposed to the innate immune system. They can be eliminated from the body before reaching the threshold that brings on cold symptoms. Using black elderberry as a preventative a few times a week in doses of a teaspoon or two can make a big difference in your ability to fight off a cold that might otherwise bring you down for a week or two. Alternatively, if we are infected and take double doses of elderberry at the first symptoms, we can kick that particular cold to the curb within a day or so. Add Zinc On the other side of the virus infection equation, we can strengthen the cell membranes and make them less permeable to piercing by virus particles by taking a good zinc supplement in 25 – 100 mg doses with a small dose – say 100 mg – of vitamin C. The two together strengthen cell membranes very quickly. If taken at the first sign of a cold, the symptoms can be knocked back in as few as a couple of hours. Zinc can cause mild nausea in some people, so be aware of that in advance. I like to think of it as the feeling of a battle between good vs. evil, and good winning out as the nausea lifts. It only lasts an hour at most in most people and is minimized or absent in smaller doses. Zinc is not a supplement that is desirable to take on a long-term basis unless there is a nutritional necessity for supplementing but to prevent or lessen symptoms from an existing early infection, it’s tough to beat for short term use. So to prevent a cold or possibly flu, a teaspoon or two of black elderberry every other day or so, and a one-two punch if we note symptoms with doubling the elderberry and adding in zinc and vitamin C. Black elderberry tincture can be purchased at a higher-end grocery store or a high-quality herb or health food store, or even at the drug store in a less desirable but usually effective sugary syrup. The alcohol-free, glycerite tinctures are the preferred form, but the alcohol extracts and sugar syrups work too. A one-ounce tincture usually runs $8-12, and the sugary syrup around $15 for 3-4 ounces. Prevent and beat back those colds with a frequent, delicious taste of black elderberry! Nothing prevents using it as or with pancake syrup or in your morning blueberry smoothie. Food as medicine! Dennis Perry, ND Dr. Perry is a naturopathic doctor in Coos Bay, OR and has been practicing for 7 years. He is in the process of opening a low-no cost clinic in Cambria, California in early 2020, practicing as a California-licensed naturopathic doctor with focus on traditional natural medicine and regenerative therapies, again for the underserved.
5 Ways to Recover from Holiday Feasting
The holidays are a time for feasting. Most everyone feels the holiday aftermath of ingesting salty, fatty main courses, and dangerously yummy sweets for dessert. But have no fear. We can counteract the after-effects of feasting together. And guess what? You don’t need to fast, or start the new year with some extreme diet plan! We’re all about quick and easy, so here are some simple cleansing measures to support your body’s recovery from your holiday splurge. This article originally published on Zuma Wellness by Dr. Sarah Murphy, and has been reshared with permission.
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